Home Overview Slideshows Texts More Texts Images Maps In Memoriam
Dardanelles 21Bn Anzac Book Glorious Gallipoli Morgenthau Evacuation Anzac Day 1919 Short History Over There River Clyde Britannica Monash The Dardanelles Gallipoli Uncensored Dardanelles General Monro East or West War Wanderings Muddle, Indecision and Setback Changing World Constantinople

With The Turks At The Dardanelles

Extract from


A Year of the War on Many Fronts--and Behind Them

by Arthur Ruhl

(note the full text of this book is available by email from Ex Libris

The little side-wheeler--she had been built in Glasgow in 1892, and done

duty as a Bosporus ferry-boat until the war began--was supposed to sail

at four, but night shut down and she still lay at the wharf in Stamboul.

We contrived to get some black bread, hard-boiled eggs, oranges, and

helva from one of the little hole-in-the-wall shops near by, watched

Pera and its ascending roofs turn to purple, and the purple to gray and

black, until Constantinople was but a string of lights across Galata

Bridge, and a lamp here and there on the hills.  Then, toward midnight,

with lights doused and life-belts strung along the rail--for English

submarines were in the Marmora--we churned quietly round the corner of

Stamboul and into the cool sea.

The side-wheeler was bound for the Dardanelles with provisions for the

army--bread in bags, big hampers of green beans, and cigarettes--and

among them we were admitted by grace of the minister of war, and papers

covered with seals and Turkish characters, which neither of us could

read.  We tried to curl up on top of the beans (for the Marmora is cold

at night, and the beans still held some of the warmth of the fields),

but in the end took to blankets and the bare decks.

All night we went chunking southward--it is well over a hundred miles

from Constantinople to the upper entrance to the straits--and shook

ourselves out of our blankets and the cinders into another of those

blue-and-gold mornings which belong to this part of the world.  You must

imagine it behind all this strange fighting at the Dardanelles--sunshine

and blue water, a glare which makes the Westerner squint; moons that

shine like those in the tropics.  One cannot send a photograph of it

home any more than I could photograph the view from my hotel window here

on Pera Hill of Stamboul and the Golden Horn.  You would have the

silhouette, but you could not see the sunshine blazing on white mosques

and minarets, the white mosques blazing against terra-cotta roofs and

dusty green cedars and cypresses, the cypresses lifting dark and pensive

shafts against the blue--all that splendid, exquisite radiance which

bursts through one's window shutters every morning and makes it seem

enough to look and a waste of time to try to think.

It is the air the gods and heroes used to breathe; they fought and

played, indeed, over these very waters and wind-swept hills.  Leander

swam the Dardanelles (or Hellespont) close to where the Irresistible and

Bouvet were sunk; the wind that blew in our faces that morning was the

same that rippled the drapery of the Winged Victory.  As we went

chunking southward with our beans and cigarettes, we could see the snows

of Olympus--the Mysian Olympus, at any rate, if not the one where Jove,

the cloud-compelling, used to live, and white-armed Juno, and Pallas,

Blue-Eyed Maid.  If only our passports had taken us to Troy we could

have looked down the plains of Ilium to the English and French ships,

and Australian and French colonials fighting up the hillside across the

bay.  We got tea from the galley, and-with bread and helva (an

insinuating combination of sugar and oil of sesame, which tastes of

peanuts and is at once a candy and a sort of substitute for butter or

meat) made out a breakfast.

A Turkish soldier, the only other occupant of the deck, surveyed these

preparations impassively; then, taking off his boots, climbed on a

settee and stood there in his big bare feet, with folded hands, facing,

as he thought, toward Mecca.  The boat was headed southwest, and he

looked to starboard, so that he faced, as a matter of fact, nearly due

west. He had knelt and touched his forehead twice to the bench, and was

going on with the Mussulman prayer when the captain, a rather elegant

young man who had served in the navy, murmured something as he passed.

The soldier looked round thoughtfully; without embarrassment, surprise,

or hurry stepped from the settee, pointed it toward the Asiatic shore,

and, stepping up again, resumed his devotions.

Five times that day, as the faithful are commanded, he said his prayer--

a sight that followed us everywhere that week.  One evening after dusk,

on another boat, a fireman came up from below, climbed on a settee, and

began his prayer.  Several passengers, who had not seen him in the dark,

walked in front of him.  He broke off, reviled them in true fire-room

style, then with a wide gesture, as though sweeping the air clear ahead

of him all the way to the holy city, began at the beginning again.

Soldiers up in the Gallipoli hills, the captain on the bridge, a

stevedore working on a lighter in the blaze of noon with the winch

engines squealing round him--you turn round to find a man, busy the

moment before, standing like a statue, hands folded in front of him,

facing the east. Nothing stops him; no one seems to see him; he stands

invisible in the visible world--in a world apart, 'indeed, to which the

curious, self-conscious Westerner is not admitted, where, doubtless, he

is no more than the dust which the other shakes from his feet before he

is fit to address his God.

The Marmora narrowed, we passed Gallipoli on the European side, where

the English and French hostages had had their curious adventure the week

before, and on into the Dardanelles proper and the zone of war.  It was

some forty miles down this salt-water river (four miles wide at its

widest, and between the forts of Chanak Kale and Kilid Bahr, near its

lower end, a fraction over a mile) from the Marmora gateway to the

Aegean.  On the left were Lapsaki and the green hills of Asia,

cultivated to their very tops; on the right Europe and the brown hills

of the peninsula, now filled with guns and horses and men.

Over there, up that narrow strip of Europe, running down between the

Dardanelles and the Aegean, the Allies had been trying for weeks to

force their way to Constantinople.  They had begun in February, you will

recall, when they bombarded the forts at the outer entrance to the

Dardanelles--Sedd ul Bahron the European side, at the tip of the

peninsula, and Kum Kale, across the bay on the Asiatic shore..  These

forts occupy somewhat the relation to Constantinople that Sandy Hook

does to New York, although much farther away--they face, that is to say,

the open sea, and the guns of the fleet, heavier than those of the old

forts, could stand off at a safe distance and demolish them.

When the ships pushed on up the strait toward Kilid Bahr and Chanak

Kale--somewhat like trying to run the Narrows at New York--there was a

different story.  They were now within range of shore batteries and

there were anchored mines and mines sent down on the tide.  On March 18

the Irresistible, Ocean, and Bouvet were sunk, and it began to be

apparent that the Dardanelles could not be forced without the help of a

powerful land force.  So in April landing parties were sent ashore: at

Kum Kale and Sedd ul Bahr, at Kaba Tepe and Art Burnu, some twelve or

fourteen miles farther north on the Aegean side of the peninsula, and at

another point a few miles farther up.  At Sedd ul Bahr and along the

beach between Kaba Tepe and Art Bumu the Allies made their landing good,

dug themselves in, and, reinforced by the fire of the ships, began a

trench warfare not unlike that which has dragged on in the west.

The peninsula is but ten or twelve miles wide at its widest, and the

Dardanelles side is within range of the fleet's great guns, firing clear

overland from the Aegean.  It was by this indirect fire that Maidos was

destroyed and Gallipoli partly smashed and emptied of its people.  There

were places toward the end of the peninsula where Turkish infantrymen

had to huddle in their trenches under fire of this sort coming from

three directions.  Whenever the invaders had it behind they were

naturally at an advantage; whenever it ceased they were likely to be

driven back. The Turks, on the other hand, had the advantage of numbers,

of fighting on an "inside line," and of a country, one hill rising

behind another, on the defense of which depended their existence as a

nation in Europe.

Under these conditions the fighting had been going on for weeks, the

English and French holding their ground at Sedd ul Bahr and Ari Burnu,

but getting no nearer Constantinople.  And as we went chunking down the

strait that night and into Ak-Bash in the dark, two new forces were

coming in.  The next day a German submarine--come all the way round

through the Mediterranean--was to sink the Triumph and the Majestic,

while another American correspondent, who had intended to come with us

but took the transport Nagara instead, saw the head of an English

submarine poke through the Marmora.  A blond young man in overalls and

white jersey climbed out of the conning-tower.  "Will you give us time

to get off?" cried the American, the only one on board who could speak


"Yes," said the young man, "and be damned quick about it." Ten minutes

later, from the boats into which they had tumbled, the passengers saw a

cloud of yellow smoke, and the Nagara simply disintegrated and sank, and

with her the heavy siege-gun she was taking to the Dardanelles.

Pleasantly unaware of what might as well have happened to the bread and

beans, we drew up to a hill-side speckled with lights, a wharf, and a

hospital boat smelling of iodoform, through a cabin window of which a

doctor was peacefully eating dinner.  Boxes and sacks were piled near

the wharf, and from over behind the hills, with startling nearness, came

the nervous Crack... crack...  crack-crack-crack! of rifle and

machine-gun fire.

We went to sleep to the tune of it, moved a few miles down the coast in

the night, and crawled out into a world of dusty brown--brown hillsides

and camels and soldiers and sacks of wheat piled on the flat, immersed

in an amber dawn.  This was the destination of the side-wheeler, and by

sunup we were loaded into a machine with a horse, several goats, three or

four passengers, and four barefooted boatmen, who pushed us over the

strait to Chanak Kale.

We were now at the narrowest part of the Dardanelles, behind us, on the

European side, the old round tower of Kilid Bahr and Medjidie Fort, in

front Fort Hamidie, and on the horizon to the south, where the strait

opened into the sea, the tiny silhouettes of several of the Allies'

ships. Chanak was smashed like the towns in west Belgium, and, but for

the garrison and the Turkish and German commandants tucked away in the

trees, all but deserted, except by flies and half-starved cats.  These

unhappy creatures, left behind in the flight, were everywhere, and in

front of the bake shop they crowded in literal scores--gaunt, mangy,

clawed and battered from constant fights.  It was hot, there was little

to eat, and after hours of wrangling it appeared that our precious

scratches of Turkish took us to the Gallipoli instead of the Asiatic


The two were under different jurisdictions; though the fault was not

ours, the local commandant had the right to ship us back to

Constantinople, and after a sort of delirium of flies, cats, gendarmes,

muggy heat, and debates, night descended to find us going to sleep in

the middle of a vegetable farm, in a house lately inhabited by whirling

dervishes, with two lynx-eyed police-men in gray lamb's-wool caps seated

at the gate. By them we were marched next day to the wharf and suddenly

there translated into the upper ether by the German admiral and his

thoughtful aid, who, on their way to the headquarters of the land forces

across the strait, whirled us over in style in a torpedo-boat.

We landed at the same place at which we had touched in the dark two

nights before--busy and blazing now in the afternoon sun, with gangs of

stevedores shuffling to and from the ships at the brand-new wharfs,

Turkish officers galloping about on their thick-necked, bobtailed, fiery

little stallions, and the dusty flat, half a mile across, perhaps,

between its encircling hills, crowded with ox and horse carts, camel

trains, and piles of ammunition-boxes and sacks of food.

The admiral and his aid were greeted by a smart young German officer

with a monocle, and galloped off into the hills, while we fell into the

hospitable hands of another German, a civilian volunteer in red fez and

the blue and brass buttons of the merchant marine, cast here by the

chance of war.  He was a Hamburg-American captain, lately sailing

between Buenos Aires and Hamburg, and before that on an Atlas Line boat

between the Caribbean and New York.  He talked English and seemed more

than half American, indeed, and when he spoke of the old Chelsea Hotel,

just across the street from the Y.  M.  C.  A.  gymnasium in which I had

played hand-ball, we were almost back in Twenty-third Street.  He took

us up to his tent on the hill, overlooking the men and stores, and, he

explained, reasonably safe from the aeroplanes which flew over several

times a day.  Over his cigarettes and tea and bottled beer we talked of

war and the world.

It was the captain's delicate and arduous duty to impose his tight

German habits of work and ship-shapeness on camel drivers, stevedores,

and officials used to the looser, more leisurely methods of the East.

He could not speak Turkish, was helpless without his interpreter, at

best a civilian among soldiers--men have got Iron Crosses for easier

jobs than that! He talked of the news--great news for his side--of the

Triumph, and, opening his navy list, made a pencil mark.

"She's off!" he said.  The book was full of marks.  In methodical sailor

fashion he had been crossing them off since the war began: British and

German--Blucher, Scharnhorst, Irresistible, Goliath, and the rest--

millions of dollars and hundreds of men at a stroke.

"Where's it going to end?" he demanded.  "There's seven hundred good men

gone, maybe--how many did the Triumph carry? And we think it's good

news! If a man should invent something that would kill a hundred

thousand men at once, he'd be a great man...  Now, what is that?"

The English were hanging on to Sedd ul Bahr--they might try to make

another Gibraltar of it.  Their aeroplanes came up every day.  There was

a French-man with a long tail--he only came to the edge of the camp, and

as soon as the batteries opened up turned back, but the Englishman

didn't stop for anything.  He dropped a bomb or two every time he

passed--one man must have been square under one, for they found pieces

of him, but never did find his head.  It wasn't so much the bomb that

did the damage; it was the stones blown out by the explosion.  If you

were standing anywhere within sixty feet when it went off, you were

likely to be killed.  The captain had had trenches dug all over camp

into which they could jump--had one for himself just outside the tent.

All you hoped for when one of those fellows was overhead and the

shrapnel chasing after him was that the next one would take him fair and

square and bring him down.  Yet that fellow took his life in his hands

every time he flew over.  "He's fighting for his country, too!" the

captain sighed.

It was our first duty to present ourselves to the commandant of the

peninsular forces, Field-Marshal Liman von Sanders--Liman Pasha, as he

is generally called in Turkey--and the captain found a carriage,

presently, and sent us away with a soldier guard.  Our carriage was a

talika, one of those little gondola-like covered wagons common in the

country.  There is a seat for the driver; the occupants lie on the floor

and adjust themselves as best they can to the bumpings of the hilly


The country reminded one of parts of our own West--brown hills, with

sparse pines and scrub-oaks, meadows ablaze with scarlet poppies, and

over all blue sky, sunshine, and the breeze from the near-by sea.  We

passed camel trains, mule trains, horses, and tents masked with brush.

Here evidently were the men we had seen marching day after day through

the Constantinople streets--marching away to war in the silent Eastern

fashion, without a waving handkerchief, a girl to say good-by to, or a

cheer.  Here they were and yet here they weren't, for the brush and

tangled hills swallowed them up as thoroughly as armies are swallowed up

in the villages of Belgium and France.

We passed even these signs of war and came into pines and open meadows--

we might have been driving to somebody's trout preserve. The wagon

stopped near a sign tacked to a tree, and we walked down a winding path

into a thicket of pines.  There were tents set in the bank and covered

with boughs, and out of one came a tall, square-jawed German officer,

buttoning his coat.  He waved aside our passports with the air of one

not concerned with such details, asked if we spoke German--or perhaps we

would prefer French?--and, motioning down the path to a sort of

summer-house with a table and chairs, told an orderly to bring tea.

This was the headquarters of the Fifth Army, and this the commander-in-

chief.  A bird-man might have flown over the neighborhood a dozen times

without guessing that they were there.  We were hidden in the pines, and

only an occasional far-off Br-r-rum-m! from the cannons in the south

broke the stillness.  Some one had brought up a cask of native claret

from Chanak, and the field-marshal's staff were helping to put it into

the bank in front of the arbor.  A professor of chemistry--until the war

called him back to the colors--was shovelling and showing the Turkish

soldiers how the cask should be slanted; another of the superintendents

had lived for ten years in America, and was enthusiastic over the charms

and future of Davenport, Iowa.  Presently tea came, and thin little

sandwiches and cigars, and over these the commander-in-chief spoke with

complete cheerfulness of the general situation.

The English and French could not force the Dardanelles; no more could

they advance on land, and now that the submarines had arrived, the

fleet, which had been bothersome, would be taken care of.  He spoke with

becoming sorrow of the behavior of Italy, and did not mar this charming

little fete champetre with any remarks about American shipments of arms.

The ex-banker from Davenport also spoke of the Italians, and with a

rather disconcerting vigor, considering that they were recent allies.

The young aide-de-camp whom we had seen at the wharf declared that the

Turkish soldier was the best in the world.  It was a very different army

from that which had been defeated in the Balkan War, and the endurance

and tenacity of the individual soldier were beyond anything he had ever

seen.  A man would see a dozen of his comrades killed alongside him by a

high-explosive shell and only shrug his shoulders and say that now, at

any rate, they were all in paradise.

One continually hears similar comments, and there can be no doubt of the

Turkish soldier's bravery, and his unusual ability to endure hardship.

No one who has wrangled with a minor Turkish official, and experienced

the impassive resistance he is able to interpose to anything he doesn't

want to do, will underestimate what this quality might become,

translated into the rugged physique and impassivity of the common


Westerners have heard so long of the Sick Man of Europe and his imminent

decease that they are likely to associate political with physical

weakness, and think that the pale, brooding, official type, familiar in

photographs, is the every-day Turk.  As a matter of fact, the every-day

Turk is tough-bodied and tough-spirited, used to hard living and hard

work.  The soldiers you see swinging up Pera Hill or in from a practice

march, dust-covered and sweating, and sending out through the dusty

cedars a wailing sort of chant as they come--these are as splendid-

looking fellows as you will see in any army in Europe.

They are dressed in businesslike fashion in dust-colored woollen tunics

and snug breeches with puttees, and wear a rather rakish-looking folded

cap--a sort of conventionalized turban not unlike the soldier hats

children make by folding newspapers.  This protects the eyes and the

back of the neck from the sun.  They are strong and well made, with

broad, high cheek-bones, a black mustache generally, and hawk eyes.

Some look as the Tartar warriors who swept over eastern Europe must have

looked; some, with their good-natured faces and vigorous compactness,

remind one of Japanese infantrymen.

During the early fighting on the peninsula the wounded came up to

Constantinople, after days on the way, in wagons, perhaps, over horrible

roads, in commandeered ferry-boats and freighters, yet one scarcely

heard a sound, a murmur of complaint.  Gray and gaunt, with the mud of

the trenches still on them, they would be helped into ambulances and

driven off to the hospitals, silent themselves and through crowds as

silent as those which had watched them march away a few weeks before.

From that little oasis in the pines we drove with a pass, signed by the

field-marshal himself, taking us to the heights above Ari Burnu, to a

point near the south front, a hill in the centre of the peninsula, from

which we could see both the Dardanelles and the Aegean, and to a camp

beneath it, where we were to spend the night.

It was dark when our wagon lurched into this camp, and a full hour

passed before the baffled Turks could convince themselves that our pass

and we were all that they should be, and put us into a tent.

Nevertheless, an orderly poked his head in good-naturedly enough at

seven next morning with tea and goat's cheese and brown bread, and our

captain host, a rather wildish-looking young man from the Asiatic

interior, came to say he had telephoned for permission to take us to the

heights above Kaba Tepe and Ari Burnu.

The camp was the office, so to speak, of the division commander, with

his clerks, telephone operator, commissary machinery, and so on, the

commander himself living at the immediate front.  It was like scores of

other camps hidden away in the hills--brush-covered tents dug into the

hillsides, looking like rather faded summer-houses; arbor-like

horse-sheds, covered with branches, hidden in ravines; every wagon, gun,

or piece of material that might offer a target to an aeroplane covered

with brush.  They were even painting gray horses that morning with a

brown dye.  A big 38-centimeter unexploded shell, dropped into a near-by

village by the Queen Elizabeth, and with difficulty pushed up on end now

by a dozen men, was shown us, and presently we climbed into the carriage

with the captain, and went rocking over the rough road toward the


The country reminded one of the California foot-hills in the dry season,

and me, particularly, of Honduras and the road from the Pacific up to

Tegucigalpa--gravelly brown hills and tangled valleys with sparse pines

and scrub-oaks; rocky slopes down which tinkled brown and white flocks

of sheep and goats; sunshine and scarlet poppies and fresh wind; and

over all a curious, quiet, busy web of war; a long shoulder, sharp

against the blue, with a brown camel train ambling down it; a ravine

with its arbor-like shelters for cavalry; wounded soldiers in carts, or

riding when they were able to ride; now and then an officer on his

cranky little stallion--the whole countryside bristling with defense.

Up one of the hot little valleys we climbed, left the carriage, and,

walking up a trail, cut into the bank, past men and horses hidden away

like bandits, and came at last to the top and several tents dug into the

rim of the hill.  It was the headquarters of Essad Pasha, defender of

Janina in the last war, and division commander in this sector of the

front.  He received us in his tent beside a table littered with maps and

papers--a grizzled, good-natured soldier, who addressed us in German,

and might indeed have passed for a German.  He apologized for the

cramped quarters, explaining that they were likely at any time to be

bombarded, and had to live in what was practically a trench, and then at

once, in the Turkish fashion, appeared an orderly with tiny cups of

sweet coffee.

Things were quiet at the moment, he said.  There was nothing but the

desultory crack-crack of snipers, coming from one knew not just where,

the every-day voice of the trenches--possibly the enemy were dismayed by

the loss of the Triumph.  He had seen it all, he said, from this very

spot--a sight one was not likely to see more than once in a lifetime.

The great ship had rolled over like a stricken whale.  Her torpedo-nets

were out, and as she turned over these nets closed down on the men

struggling in the water, and swept them under.  He, too, expressed

entire confidence in the Turk's ability to stop any farther advance and,

calling an aid, sent us to the periscope, which poked its two eyes

through a screen of pine branches a few yards away, and looked over the

parapet and down on the first-line trenches and the sea.

We were high above the Aegean and opposite the island of Imbros, which

lifted its hazy blue on the western horizon, and was used as a base by

part of the fleet.  To the south rose the promontory of Kaba Tepe,

cleared of the enemy now, our Turkish major said, and, stretching

northward from it past us and Ari Burnu, the curving rim of beach held

by the English.

More than a month had passed since the landing, and the heavy fighting

of the next few days, in which the Australians and New Zealanders, under

a hail of shrapnel churning up the water between ships and shore,

succeeded in getting a foothold; a month and more had passed, and,

though they still held their ground, apparently they could do no more.

The yellow line of their first trench twisted along the rim of the hill

below us, perhaps a quarter of a mile away, and directly behind it lay

the blue sea.  How much elbow-room they might have between their

trenches and the water one could not tell, so completely foreshortened

was the space between.  Cliffs rise from a narrow strip of foreshore

here, however, and apparently they had pushed just over the cliff rim--

the first hill above the sea.  Their tents, stores and landing-places

were out of sight.

Directly in front of the English trenches were the first-line Turkish

trenches, in some places not more than fifteen or twenty feet away, so

close, indeed, that when there was fighting they must have fought with

revolvers, hand-grenades, shovels, anything they could lay their hands

on.  At the moment it was quiet but for the constant Crack...

crack-crack! of snipers.

We could look down on the backs and heads of the Turkish soldiers;

except for a wisp of smoke rising here and there from some hidden camp

cook-stove, there was not a sign of life in the English trenches.

Snipers were attending to that.  Even here, in the second-line trenches

on top of the second hill, no one was allowed to show his head, and it

was all the more curious to see a squad of Turkish soldiers digging away

below as calmly as so many market-gardeners in a potato-field.  They

were running another trench behind the several that already lined the

slope, and must have been hidden by a rise of ground, though looking

down from above they seemed to be out in the open.

The position of the English did not seem enviable.  They had trenches

directly in front of them, and several hundred feet above them a second

line (from which we were looking) dominating the whole neighborhood. The

first-line Turkish trenches were too close to their own to be bombarded

from the ships, so that that preliminary advantage was cut off; the

second-line defenses, in the twisting gullies over the hill, could stand

bombardment about as well as could trenches anywhere--and behind them

was the water.  They were very literally between the devil and the deep


With the periscope we worked from Kaba Tepe on the left clear across the

ground in front of us to the north.  Over in the west, by hazy Imbros,

were five or six ships; there was another fleet in the north to-ward the

Gulf of Saros, and little black beetles of destroyers crawled here and

there across the blue sea floor.  The major took us into his tent for

cigarettes and another thimbleful of the coffee.  He, too, had been

educated in Germany, spoke German and French, and with his quick, bright

eyes and soft smile, would easily have passed for a Frenchman or


They had just had a seven hours' armistice to bury the dead and bring in

the wounded, some of whom had been lying between the trenches for a

week.  The English had proposed the armistice; an officer had come out

from each side, and they had had a long pow-wow and drawn up a written

agreement with meticulous care lest there should be a misunderstanding

or danger of breaking the truce.  Everything, the major said, had been

most good-natured and correct.  The English had sent a "diplomat" in

addition to their military delegate, a civilian whom he had known well

in Constantinople.  It was altogether quaint and interesting, meeting

and talking with this man, with whom he might, so to speak, have been

playing bridge the night before--"Sehr nett! Sehr nett!" he said.  With

his soft smile.

While he was waiting to receive the English delegate, five shrapnel-

shells had been fired at him, he said; but he understood that it was a

mistake and made no protest, and during the truce a wounded Turk had

refused to take the water an English officer had tried to give him,

firing at the Englishman instead.  A little fanatical, perhaps, but

then--and again the major smiled in his charming way--"a little

fanaticism in one's soldiers is a good thing!"

No, one didn't care to be hanging on to that strip of beach with those

Australians and New Zealanders.  We drove back to camp for lunch, which

we had in the captain's little brush-covered balcony, set into the hill.

He did not eat, but showed us his photograph, very smooth and dapper,

compared with his bristling service face, taken with his two children,

one a little girl and the other a grave little boy, with a face like a

miniature pasha.  The captain came from the Asiatic side, near Broussa,

on the slopes of Olympus, and was all Turk, without any foreign frills

or a word of English, German, or French.  He took no lunch, but ate some

of the helva left over from Stamboul, and then started with us up the

hill behind the camp.

This was about midway in the peninsula, and, facing south from the

summit, we looked down over the twisting hills, pockmarked with holes

from shells and aeroplane bombs, to the Marmora on the left, and on the

right to the Aegean and hazy Imbros, and, in front, almost to the end of

the peninsula.  The sun was down in the west, and in its track a cruiser

steamed a mile or two out from the coast, while from under Ari Burnu,

where we had been that morning, a transport put out, rather recklessly

it seemed, and went straight across the open water.  From the south and

west there was the continual Br-r-umr-m... br-r-um-m! of big guns, and

over Kaba Tepe way we could see shells bursting.  We sat there for an

hour or so, waiting for one of the little specks out on the blue sea

floor to fire or sink, and then, as nothing happened, returned to camp.

An orderly brought us supper that night--mutton, bread and cheese,

haricots, stewed fruit, and coffee--and we dined on a little table

outside the tent, with the twilight turning to moonlight and the

sheep-bells tinkling against the opposite hill.  Soldiers were carrying

their suppers from the cook tent--not at all the bread-and-cigarette

diet with which one is always being told the hardy Turk is content.  He

may be content, but whenever I saw him eating he had meat and rice, and

often stewed fresh beans or fruit--certainly better food than most

Turkish peasants or artisans are accustomed to at home.

I sat outside watching the moon rise and listening to the distant

Crack... crack-crack! of rifle and machine-gun fire from over Ari Bumu

way. Evidently they were fighting in the trenches we had seen that

morning. The orderly who had served us, withdrawn a little way, was

standing like a statue in the dusk, hands folded in front of him, saying

his last prayer of the evening.  Beyond, from a bush-covered tent, came

the jingle of a telephone and 'the singsong voice of the young Turkish

operator relaying messages in German--"Ja!... Ja!... Kaba Tepe...

Ousedom Pasha... Morgen frith... Hier Multepe!... Ja!... Ja!"

And to this and the distant rattle of battle we went to sleep.

Chapter XII

Soghan-Dere And The Flier Of Ak-Bash

Next morning, after news had been telephoned in that the submarines had

got another battleship, the Majestic, we climbed again into the covered

wagon and started for the south front.  We drove down to the sea and

along the beach road through Maidos--bombarded several weeks before,

cross-country from the Aegean, and nothing now but bare, burnt walls--on

to Kilid Bahr, jammed with camels and ox-carts and soldiers, and then on

toward the end of the peninsula.

We were now beyond the Narrows and the Dardanelles.  To the left, a bit

farther out, were the waters in which the Irresistible, Ocean, and

Bouvet were sunk, and even now, off the point, ten or twelve miles away,

hung the smoke of sister ships.  We drove past the big guns of the

forts, past field-guns covering the shore, past masked batteries and

search-lights. Beside us, along the shore road, mule trains and ox-carts

and camel trains were toiling along in the blaze and dust with

provisions and ammunition for the front.  Once we passed four soldiers

carrying a comrade, badly wounded, on a stretcher padded with leaves.

After an hour or so of bumping we turned into a transverse valley, as

level almost as if it had been made for a parade-ground.

High hills protected it north and south; a little stream ran down the

centre--it might have been made for a storage base and camp.  More

brush-covered tents and arbors for horses were strung along the

hillside, one above the other sometimes, in half a dozen terraces.

We drove into the valley, got out and followed the orderly to a

brush-covered arbor, closed on every side but one, out of which came a

well set-up, bronzed, bright-eyed man of fifty or thereabout who

welcomed us like long-lost friends.

It was Colonel Shukri Bey, commander of the Fifteenth Division.  We were

the first correspondents who had pushed thus far, and as novel to him

apparently as he was charming to us.  He invited us into the little

arbor; coffee was brought and then tea, and, speaking German to Suydam

and French to me, he talked of the war in general and the operations at

the end of the peninsula with the greatest good humor and apparent

confidence in the ultimate result.

Our talk was continually punctuated by the rumble of the big guns over

the plateau to the south.  "That's ours"...  "That's theirs," he would

explain; and presently, with a young aide-de-camp as guide, we climbed

out of the valley and started down the plateau toward Sedd ul Bahr.  The

Allies' foothold here was much wider than that at An Burnu.  In the

general landing operations of April 25 and 26 (one force was sent ashore

in a large collier, from which, after she was beached, the men poured

across anchored lighters to the shore) the English and French had

established themselves in Sedd ul Bahr itself and along the cliffs on

either side.  This position was strengthened during the weeks of

fighting which followed until they appeared to be pretty firmly fixed on

the end of the peninsula, with a front running clear across it in a

general northwest line, several kilometres in from the point.  The

valley we had just left was Soghan-Dere, about seven miles from Sedd ul

Bahr, and the plateau across which we were walking led, on the right, up

to a ridge from which one could look down on the whole battle-field, or,

to the left, straight down into the battle itself.

The sun was getting down in the west by this time, down the road from

camp men were carrying kettles of soup and rice pilaf to their comrades

in the trenches, and from the end of the plateau came continuous

thundering and the Crack... crack... crack! of infantry fire.  The road

was strewn with fragments of shells from previous bombardments, and our

solicitous young lieutenant, fearing we might draw fire, pulled us

behind a bush for a minute or two, whenever the aeroplane, flying back

and forth in the west, seemed to be squinting at us.  The enemy could

see so little, he said, that whenever they saw anything at all they

fired twenty shots at it on principle.

For two miles, perhaps, we walked, until from the innocent-looking

chaparral behind us there was a roar, and a shell wailed away over our

heads out into the distance.

We could see the end of the peninsula, where the coast curves round from

Eski Hissariik toward Sedd ul Bahr, and two of the enemy's cruisers

steaming slowly back and forth under the cliffs, firing, presumably, as

they steamed.  Now they were hidden under the shore, now they came in

view, and opposite Eski Hissarlik swung round and steamed west again. In

front of us, just over the edge of the plateau which there began to

slope downward, were the trenches of the Turks' left wing, now under

bombardment.  The ridge just hid the shells as they struck, but we could

see the smoke from each, now a tall black column, like the "Jack

Johnsons" of the west, now a yellowish cloud that hung long afterward

like fog--and with it the continuous rattle of infantry fire.  Several

fliers were creeping about far up against the 'blue, looking for just

such hidden batteries as that which kept barking behind us, and out in

front and to the right came the low Br--r--um--m! of heavy guns.

Fighting like this had been going on for weeks, the ships having the

advantage of their big guns by day, the Turks recovering themselves,

apparently, at night.  They were on their own ground--a succession of

ridges, one behind the other--and they could not only always see, but

generally looked down on, an enemy who could not, generally, see them.

And the enemy's men, supplies, perhaps even his water--for this is a dry

country at all times, and after June there are almost no rains--must

come from his ships.  If English submarines were in the Marmora, so,

too, were German submarines off the Dardanelles, and if the Turks were

losing transports the English were losing battleships.

The situation held too many possibilities to make prophecy safe--I

merely record the fact that on the afternoon of May 27 I stood on the

plateau above Sedd ul Bahr, and perhaps five miles from it in an air

line, and still found myself a regrettable distance from the Allies'


The sun was shining level down the road as we returned to camp, and

soldiers were still tramping peacefully up to the front with their

kettles of food.  Meanwhile the colonel had prepared a little exhibition

for us.  Six or eight soldiers stood in line, each with a dish and

spoon, and in the dish a sample of the food for that night.  We started

at the top and tasted each: soup, mutton, stewed green beans, new-baked

bread, stewed plums, and a particularly appetizing pilaf, made out of

boiled whole wheat and raisins.  Everything was good, and the beaming

colonel declared that the first thing in war was to keep your soldiers

well fed. We dined with him in his tent: soup and several meat courses,

and cherry compote, and at the end various kinds of nuts, including the

cracked hazelnuts, commoner in Turkey than bananas and peanuts at home.

He hoped to come to America some day, and thought we must soon develop

the military strength to back our desires for peace, unless there were

to be continual wars.  New York's climate, the cost of fruit in Germany,

and other peaceful subjects were touched on, and the colonel said that

it was an honor to have us with him--ours we brilliantly responded--and

a pleasant change from the constant talk and thought of war.

He had been six years in the field now, what with the Italian and Balkan

campaigns, and that was a good deal of war at a stretch.

After excusing ourselves, though the amiable Turk said that he was in no

hurry, we were led to a sort of tent de luxe, lined in scarlet with

snaky decorations in white, and when the young aid discovered that we

had brought no beds with us, he sent out and in a moment had not only

cots and blankets, but mattresses and sheets and pillows and

pillow-cases. He asked if we had fathers and mothers alive at home, and

brothers and sisters, and if we, too, had been soldiers.  It surprised

and puzzled him that we had not, and that our army was so small.  He was

only twenty-two and a lieutenant, and he had a brother and father also

in the army. With a great air of mystery he had his orderly dig a bottle

of cognac out from his camp chest, and after we had drunk each other's

health, he gave us his card with his name in Turkish and French.  He

brought a table and put on it a night candle in a saucer of water, a

carafe of drinking water, and gave me a pair of slippers--in short, he

did for us in that brush-covered camp in the Gallipoli hills everything

that could be done for a guest in one's own house.

You can scarcely know what this meant without having known the

difficulties of mere existence once you left Constantinople and got into

the war zone, and Colonel Shukri Bey and Lieutenant Ahmed Akif will be

remembered by at least two Americans when any one talks of the terrible


I awoke shortly after daylight, thinking I heard an aeroplane strumming

in the distance, and was drowsily wondering whether or not it was fancy,

when a crash echoed up the valley.  We both hurried out.  It was sunup,

a delicious morning, and far up against the southern sky the little

speck was sailing back toward the west. There was a flash of silver just

under the flier--it was an English biplane--and a moment later another

crash farther away.  Neither did any damage.  A few minutes later we

were looking at the remains of the bomb and propeller-like wings, whose

whirling, as it falls, opens a valve that permits it to explode on

striking its mark.  Until it had fallen a certain number of metres, we

were told, mere striking the ground would not explode it--a device to

protect the airman in case of accident to his machine or if he is forced

to make a quick landing.  In the fresh, still morning, with the camp

just waking up and the curious Turkish currycombs clinking away over by

the tethered horses, our aerial visitor added only a pleasant excitement

to this life in the open, and we went on with our dressing with great

satisfaction, little dreaming how soon we were to look at one of those

little flying specks quite differently.

We breakfasted with the colonel in his arbor on bread and ripe olives

and tea, and walked with him round the camp, through a hospital and into

an old farmhouse yard, where the gunsmiths were going over stacks of

captured guns and the damaged rifles of the wounded, while the bees left

behind in some clumsy old box hives buzzed away as of yore.  Wiser than

men, the colonel observed.  There were English Enfields and French

rifles of the early nineties, and a mitrailleuse to which the Turks had

fitted a new wooden base.  There were rifles with smashed barrels, with

stocks bored through by bullets, clean-cut holes that must have gone on

through the men who held them--live men like ourselves; quick choking

instants of terror the ghosts of ---- which we were poking and peering

into there in the warm sunshine!

We said good-by to the colonel, for our passes took us but to the

valley, and he had stretched a point in sending us down the plateau the

evening before, and I bumped back to Kilid Bahr.  We did not want to

leave this part of the world without a sight of Troy, and as we had duly

presented ourselves in Gallipoli, and were now by way of coming from it

rather than Constantinople, and the Turkish official to whom the orderly

took us wrote, without question, a permission to cross to Chanak Kale,

we sailed with no misgivings.  Alas for Troy and looking down on a modern

battle from the heights of Ilium! A truculent major of gendarmes hurried

us from the Asiatic shore as if we had come to capture it.  We might not

land, we might not write a note to the commandant to see if the

permission to stop in Chanak, for which we had wired to Constantinople

the day before, had arrived; we might not telephone--we must go back to

Europe, and write or telephone from there.

So back to Europe, and after consultation and telephoning, back to Asia

again, and this time we succeeded in effecting a landing and an audience

with the commander of the defenses of the Dardanelles, Djevad Pasha.  He

was sitting under a tree in a garden looking out over the sea gate,

which, with the aid of his two German colleagues, Ousedom Pasha and

Merten Pasha, it was his task to keep shut--a trim Young Turk, more

polished and "European" than the major of gendarmes, but no less firm.

An American's wish to see the Troy he might never be so near again bored

him excessively.  We could not stay--we might not even spend the night.

There was a boat that evening, and on it we must go.

Gendarmes guarded us while we waited--we who the night before had slept

in a scarlet-lined tent!--and gendarmes hung at our heels as we and

three patient hamals with the baggage tramped ignominiously through

Chanak Kale's ruined streets.  The boat we went by was the same little

side-wheeler we had come down on, crowded with wounded now, mud-stained,

blood-stained, just as they had come from the trenches across the water,

with no place to lie but the bare deck.  The stifling hold was packed

with them; they curled up about the engine-room gratings--for it was

cold that night--yet there was no complaint.  A tired sigh now and then,

a moan of weariness, and the soldier wrapped his army overcoat a little

closer about him, curled up like a dog on a door-mat, and left the rest

to fate.  A big, round, yellow moon climbed up out of Asia and poured

its silver down on them and on the black hills and water, still as some

inland lake.

The side-wheeler tied up at Ak-Bash for the night, and it was not until

the middle of the next morning that it was decided that she should cross

and leave her wounded at Lapsaki instead of going on up to

Constantinople. We lugged our baggage off and hunted up our old friend,

the Hamburg-American captain, to see what might be done till some other

craft appeared.  He finally put us aboard a sort of enlarged tug which

might be going up that afternoon or evening.

It was about midday.  The sun blazing down on the crowded fiat; on

boxes, sacks, stevedores wrapped up in all the variegated rags of the

East shuffling in and out of the ships; on gangs digging, piling lumber,

boiling water, cooking soup; on officers in brown uniforms and brown

lamb's-wool caps; on horses, ox-teams, and a vast herd of sheep, which

had just poured out of a transport and spread over the plain, when from

the hill came two shots of warning.  An enemy aeroplane was coming!

The gangs scattered like water-bugs when a stone is thrown into the

water.  They ran for the hill, dropped into trenches; to the beach and

threw themselves flat on the sand; into the water--all, as they ran,

looking up over their shoulders to where, far overhead, whirred steadily

nearer that tiny, terrible hawk.

A hidden battery roared and--pop!--a little puff of cotton floated in

the sky under the approaching flier.  Another and another--all the

nervous little batteries in the hills round about were coming to our

rescue.  The bird-man, safely above them, drew on without flinching.  We

had looked up at aeroplanes many times before and watched the pretty

chase of the shrapnel, and we leaned out from under the awning to keep

the thing in view.  "Look," I said to Suydam; "she's coming right over

us!" And then, all at once, there was a crash, a concussion that hit the

ear like a blow, a geyser of smoke and dust and stones out on the flat

in front of us. Through the smoke I saw a horse with its pack undone and

flopping under its belly, trotting round with the wild aimlessness of

horses in the bull-ring after they have been gored.  Men were running,

and, in a tangle of wagons, half a dozen oxen, on the ground, were

giving a few spasmodic kicks.

Men streaked up from the engine-room and across the wharf--after all,

the wharf would be the thing he'd try for--and I found myself out on the

flat with them just as there came another crash, but this time over by

the Barbarossa across the bay.  Black smoke was pouring from the Turkish

cruiser as she got under way, and, with the shrapnel puffs chasing

hopelessly after, the flier swung to the southward and out of right.

Officers were galloping about yelling orders; over in the dust where the

bomb had struck, a man was sawing furiously away at the throats of the

oxen (there were seven of them, and there would be plenty of beef in

camp that night at any rate); there was a dead horse, two badly wounded

men and a hundred feet away a man lying on his face, hatless, just as he

had been blown there: dead, or as good as dead.  It appeared that two

fliers had come from opposite directions and most of the crowd had seen

but the one, while the other dropped the bomb.  It had struck just

outside the busiest part of the camp, aimed very likely at the stores

piled there. It had made a hole only five or six feet wide and two or

three feet deep, but it had blown everything in the neighborhood out

from it, as the captain had said.  Holes you could put your fist in were

torn in the flanks of the oxen by flying stones and chunks of metal, and

the tires of some of the wagons, sixty or seventy feet away, had been

cut through like wax.

The ground was cleared, the men returned to work, and we even went in

swimming, but at every unexpected noise one looked upward, and when

about five o'clock the crowd scattered again, I will confess that I

watched that little speck buzzing nearer, on a line that would bring him

straight overhead, with an interest considerably less casual than any I

had bestowed on these birds before.  There we were, confined in our

little amphitheatre; there was that diabolical bird peering down at us,

and in another minute, somewhere in that space, would come that

earth-shaking explosion--a mingling of crash and vohou'! There was no

escaping it, no dodging it, nothing to get under but empty air.

I had decided that the beach, about a hundred yards away from the

wharfs, was the safest place and hurried there; but the speck overhead,

as if anticipating me, seemed to be aiming for the precise spot.  It is

difficult under such circumstances to sit tight, reasoning calmly that,

after all, the chances of the bomb's not landing exactly there are a

good many to one--you demand at least the ostrich-like satisfaction of

having something overhead.  So I scurried over to the left to get out

from under what seemed his line of flight, when what should he do but

begin to turn!

This was really rubbing it in a bit.  To fly across as he had that

morning was one thing, but to pen one up in a nice little pocket in the

hills, and then on a vertical radius of three or four thousand feet, to

circle round over one's head--anything yet devised by the human

nightmare was crude and immature to this.  But was it overhead? If

behind, and travelling at fifty or sixty miles an hour, the bomb would

carry forward--just enough probably to bring it over; and if apparently

over, still the bomb would have been several seconds in falling--it

might be right on top of us now! Should we run backward or forward: Here

was a place, in between some grain-bags.  But the grain-bags were open

toward the wharf, and the wharf was what he was aiming at, and a plank

blown through you--No, the trench was the thing, but--Quick, he is


The beach, the bags, the ditch, all the way round the camp, and Suydam

galloping after.  Somewhere in the middle of it a hideous whiffling wail

came down the sky: Trrou... trrou... trou!--and then a crash! The bomb

had hit the water just off the end of the pier.  I kept on running.

There was another Trrou...  trrou! another geyser of water, and the bird

had flown on.

I was on the edge of the camp by this time and that strange afternoon

ended, when one of a gang of ditch-diggers, swathed in bright-colored

rags, addressed me in English, a Greek-Turk from the island of Marmora,

who, climbing out of the trench in which he and his gang had been

hiding, announced that he had lived in New York for five years, in

Fortieth Street, and worked for the Morgan Line, and begged that I get,

him out of this nerve-racking place and where he belonged, somewhere on

board ship.  There were crowds like him--Greeks, Armenians, Turks, not

wanted as soldiers but impressed for this sort of work.  They were

unloading fire-wood long after dark that night, when our boat at last

got under way.  We paused till sunup at Lapsaki, crept close to shore

through the Marmora, and once through floating wreckage--boards and a

galvanized-iron gasolene tank--apparently from some transport sunk by a

submarine, and after dark, with lights out as we had started, round the

corner of Stamboul.